MADISON, Wis. — The population in the City of Madison has been growing over the past decade and so have the rent prices, leaving many struggling to find affordable housing.
Kris Seeger Douglas is from New London, Wis. A few years ago, Douglas started commuting to Madison to drive for Uber.
“I started coming down to Madison because the people up north were not passionate about getting a safe ride home, and so I would come down and spend the weekend here,” said Douglas.
Soon, she found that the commute to the city was too long, so she started sleeping in her car and looking for an affordable apartment.
“Every day, I looked, everyday I looked and by the time I got to a place I liked, ‘Oh sorry, it’s gone,’” said Douglas.
According to Indeed, Uber drivers like Douglas, make approximately $32,814 annually, which is 36% below the national average. The average rent price in Madison is $1,459, a number that Douglas would be able to afford if she could find an apartment for that price.
There are affordable housing options available in Madison. In fact, Bayview Townhomes is adding 45 new units but Alexis London, Executive Director at Bayview, said getting into housing can take a while.
“Oh, our wait list is three years long,” said London. “We basically already, we have filled most of those units and then we will be pulling families off of Dane County’s and Madison’s consolidated homeless list.”
Linette Rhodes, Community Development Grants Supervisor for the City of Madison, said Dane County is one of the fastest growing counties in the state of Wisconsin.
“We anticipate by 2050, we will have 100,000 new households in the city of Madison,” Rhodes said.
To keep up with this rapidly growing population, the city estimated in 2021 that it would need 10,000 new homes every five years.
“If someone is experiencing homelessness, we encourage them to go to the Beacon, which is our day resource center,” Rhodes said.
The Beacon has navigation services that help people fill out applications for housing options as they become available.
Douglas had no luck finding affordable housing and still finds herself sleeping in her car when she is not staying with a friend.
“You do what you gotta do, to keep going, so I slept in my car and that was all there was to it,” said Douglas. “So the seats folded halfway down in the back, I had my pillows, I had a little cubby thing that I put in the back and that was where all my stuff was.”
Those interested in finding out what low income housing is available can visit https://www.danecountyhomeless.org/housingresourcevacancylists.